Monday, 29 December 2014

Reading Half Marathon 2015

With entries filling up for the flatter, faster 2015 Reading Half Marathon due to be held on Sunday 22 March 2015, I would welcome any runners (of any standard!) who could run for the Mayor of Reading's Charities Team. 

Just get in touch ....

Monday, 15 December 2014

Public Surgeries In Redlands In 2015

Councilllor David Absolom, Jan Gavin and Tony Jones hold public surgeries for residents in Redlands all the year round.

"Just Walk In" surgeries are held on the second Saturday of every month, alternately at St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road and at the Hexham Road Community Centre

Surgery hours are 10.30am until noon.

No appointment is necessary, and all discussions are confidential.

The calendar for 2015 is as follows:
  • January 10th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • February 14th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • March 14th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • April 11th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • May 9th - Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • June 13th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • July 11th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • August 8th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • September 12th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • October 10th - Hexham Road Community Centre
  • November 14th - St Lukes Parish Hall, Erleigh Road
  • December 12th - Hexham Road Community Centre

We also undertake regular "street surgeries" on  most other Saturdays in the year. 

This is where we deliver notices to you a day or two beforehand, then on the following Saturday morning, if you want to see us you all  you have to do is put up the "Please Call In" notice in your window

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Bonkers And Brilliant Event

This morning in the Forbury Gardens saw the first Reading Santa Run. The charity fund raising event organised by the Rotary Club of Reading saw over a thousand Santas run 5k around the town and back to the Forbury.

Well done to all concerned for this bonkers and brilliant event which has taken fun-running to a new level. I hope and expect that this will now become a regular date in the town's calendar.

Photo courtesy Chris Forsey / Reading Chronicle

Saturday, 13 December 2014

If You Do Only One Thing Today ....

... Please sign this petition:

John Morland, 30, and Kris Jarvis, 39, were mowed down by a disqualified driver in a stolen car while out cycling on February 13, 2014.

In memory of the two fathers, Oxford Road NAG together with Mr Jarvis’ fiancée Tracey Fidler and Mr Morland’s fiancée Hayley Lindsay, have launched a petition calling for the sentence for causing death by dangerous driving to be changed.
The driver was given a sentence of 10 years and three months for the two counts of death by dangerous driving and the aggravated vehicle taking.
The petition asks the Government to change the law so someone who receives a sentence for causing death by dangerous driving would receive the maximum sentence of 14 years per person that has been killed.
Currently the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving is 14 years. Whether more than one person was killed as a result of the offence is an aggravating factor.
Oxford Road NAG chairwoman Teresa Colliass said: “A lot of the NAG members were very upset about what happened and then the sentencing was the worst scenario. Ten years for two people’s lives almost makes a mockery of the sentencing. Is that all Kris and John are worth?”
She continued: “I want to ask everyone to sign it so that we can take some good out of this bad situation. It isn’t going to bring Kris and John back but it will hopefully offer a small bit of comfort.”
During the sentencing the court heard that the driver had previous convictions for 67 offences. He was also sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment to run concurrently for the additional offences, banned from driving for 15 years and ordered to retake his driving test at the end of the period.
Miss Fidler, 38, said: “We wanted to change the law because we think it is ridiculous to class them as one when two people were involved.
“I know they would have done exactly the same for me and Hayley if it was the other way around. We are fighting for Kris and John.”
Both men worked for the council – Mr Jarvis was a street care waste support officer and Mr Morland was a refuse truck driver.
Mr Jarvis was a father-of-five - Adam, nine, Emma, 11, Luke, 15, Ryan, 17, and Kyle, 19. Mr Morland was a father-of-two - Jazmin, seven, and Harvey, 11.
Miss Lindsay said: “If the law changes then hopefully another family won’t be put through as much as we have been put through.”
To sign the e-petition visit

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Joey Essex From TOWIE

As the Mayor of Reading I was pleased to welcome Joey Essex from TOWIE to the opening of the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink in Reading last night. He seemed to be a nice guy.
PS Have his autograph on the ribbon to sell for charity auction - offers?

Photo: (c) Chris Forsey / Reading Chronicle

Missing Girl Found

Missing girl found - Reading
This is a message sent via Thames Valley Alert. This information has been sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police
(Please do not reply directly to this email, please use the Reply button at the bottom of this message)
Message sent by
Liz Herbert (Police, NHW & Community Messaging Co-ordinator, Reading LPA)

Thames Valley Police can confirm that it has located a missing girl from Reading

Britannia Abdula was reported missing yesterday but has been located safe and well.

Thames Valley Police would like to thank the public and media for their assistance.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Police Appeal For Information: Missing Girl In Reading

This is a message sent via Thames Valley Alert. This information has been sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police
(Please do not reply directly to this email, please use the Reply button at the bottom of this message)
Message sent by
Liz Herbert (Police, NHW & Community Messaging Co-ordinator, Reading LPA)

Thames Valley Police is appealing for information regarding the whereabouts of a missing girl in Reading.
Britannia Abdula, aged 13, was last seen leaving her school, Blessed Hugh Faringdon School in Southcote, Reading, at about 3pm yesterday (8/12).
Police believe that she boarded a bus, possibly the number 26, to Reading town centre.
It is believed that she may have visited a Subway restaurant in Broad Street after exiting the bus.
Britannia is black, about 4ft 5in tall, with a clear complexion.
She was last seen wearing her school uniform, which is a burgundy jumper, burgundy blazer, a grey skirt, black leggings, white shirt and black shoes.
Investigating officer, Det Insp Nick Watts said: “Britannia’s family are extremely concerned for her welfare and desperately want her to come home.
“If you are reading this Britannia, please get in touch with your family or police so we know you are safe and well.
“If anyone has any information regarding Brittania’s whereabouts please contact the Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101.
“If you don't want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.”

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hexagon Panto: Cinderella - Mayor's Charity Benefit Performance

I am delighted to announce that the Mayor's Charity has been granted a benefit performance of this year's pantomime at The Hexagon.

This will be the 5pm performance on Sunday 7 December 2014.

Tickets can be booked on-line here.

JON CLEGG (Britain’s Got Talent)
ANNA WILLIAMSON (Splash, CITV, Toonattik)
DAVE MYERS (Hairy Bikers, Strictly)
LIZA GODDARD (Grandpa In My Pocket)

Once upon a time….
Cinderella dreams of escaping the life she has fallen into. With the arrival of an invitation to Prince Charming’s Grand Ball, it seems she may get her wish. However, the Ugliest Sisters in pantoland are determined to keep her as their servant, but with the help of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and a generous helping of panto magic perhaps her dreams will come true after all?

Friday, 21 November 2014

Kendrick Road Tree Pruning

If you live or park in Kendrick Road you will need to be aware that parking rights will be suspended next week in order that tree pruning can be undertaken.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

To Print Or Not To Print: That Is The Question

Guest Post: Steve Dyson

Is Trinity Mirror’s digital experiment in Reading the end for local papers?

Regional newspaper group has abandoned a market-leading print position in Berkshire to chase a low-cost online-only future Photograph:
Trinity Mirror’s decision on Friday to close seven local newspapers, in what it described as a “bold, digital-only approach”, provides much to discuss. The future of local papers for a start.
Let’s take Berkshire, where the company’s market-leading papers, the Reading Post and its free sister title GetReading, have been sacrificed in an attempt to boost its online website.
The two weeklies were direct descendants of the Reading Evening Post, and were created in 2009 by then-owner Guardian Media Group when the daily’s sales fell to 12,979 copies. They were sold to Trinity Mirror along with the Manchester Evening News in 2010.
What’s intriguing is the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ latest figures, which show that the Reading Post circulated 12,389 copies a week in 2013, 50% selling at 70p, the rest free ‘pick up’ copies; meanwhile, GetReading circulated 65,185 a week, 95% home-delivered and 3,319 selling at 70p.
Compare that to the competing Reading Chronicle, owned by the independent Berkshire Media Group – and soon to be the town’s only paid-for paper: last year it distributed 5,981 copies a week, 80% of them paid-for, while its free sister title, the Reading Midweek, reached another 55,449 homes.
Put simply, Reading appears to be a highly competitive newspaper market that until last Friday was led by Trinity Mirror’s titles, with cover price revenues alone estimated to be worth more than £300,000 a year.
At a stroke, Trinity Mirror has willingly given this print position away – Berkshire Media must be rubbing their hands in glee – in order to free-up costs and experiment with a cheaper ‘digital only’ push.
If this ‘closing-costly-print-in-favour-of-digital’ model works, it could soon be introduced elsewhere, as Trinity Mirror’s own statement hinted at last week: “[T]his is an important and pioneering step that might, in time, be applicable to other existing markets or indeed new ones.”
I wanted to explore this strategy in more detail, but my approaches were blocked by Nick Cosgrove, of Trinity Mirror’s PR company Brunswick Group, who simply said: “I’d refer you to the statement issued on Friday.”
That statement has little depth or reasoning. Here are just some of the questions I wanted to ask the company:
• Are the newspapers you’re closing making losses? If not, why are you closing them?
• If profit margins are narrowing, why not simply reduce costs to sustain the businesses?
• Why have you not put these titles up for sale instead?
• Is it because you’re attempting a less costly, ‘digital only’ experiment which, as you say, might be applied elsewhere if successful?
• What does that mean for tens of thousands of traditional readers who want to receive your products in print?
• Your newspaper closures will result in dozens of job losses: how will this affect the reporting of areas like courts and council, and other roles that traditional newspapers play in an open, democratic society?
• How will your ‘digital only’ products still stick up for local people, still investigate rip-offs, misdemeanours, corruption and crime?
Trinity Mirror, of course, is a plc and so is perfectly entitled – some would say legally bound – to employ strategies it thinks will best make the most profits for its shareholders.
But if its ‘digital-only’ gamble is played out across the company’s regional portfolio, with fewer fixed costs, and fewer reporters, and if this is then looked at and emulated by other publishers, it could spell catastrophe for the local newspaper industry.
Whether or not this is the right strategy deserves tough questioning, analysis and discussion – before there’s nothing left to debate.
● Steve Dyson is a former editor of the Birmingham Mail and the Evening Gazette, Teesside, both published by Trinity Mirror. His personal website is here

Sunday, 16 November 2014

General Election 2015: Less Than Six Months To Go


With now less than six months to go to the next General Election, on Thursday 7 May 2015, here's a poll undertaken by ComRes and published in today's The Independent on Sunday.

In a period of intense scrutiny of the national leadership, it is interesting to note that support for the Labour Party remains solid. With an increasingly "Presidential" style of news media coverage I wonder how many people could even name all the party leaders?

In Redlands, as in Reading, we will keep standing up for what matters to residents, street by street, issue by issue.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Eastern Avenue Car Parking

Eastern Avenue: south west end in Redlands

Labour Councillors have responded to concerns of Redlands residents in Eastern Avenue about car parking in the area by calling a meeting next week to discuss options.

The introduction of a successful residents parking scheme in near-by Upper Redlands Road last year (at the request of the residents in that street) as well as the more recent schemes in New Road and the Mount, has undoubtedly placed more pressure on undefended streets to the dislocation of non-residents parking.

With this in mind Redlands Labour Councillors are inviting residents to discuss the current and possible future parking arrangements at a meeting next week:

Date:    Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Time:    7pm to 8pm
Venue: Kennet Room, Reading Borough Council Civic Offices.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Guest Post: "This Is Why I Want To Be Prime Minister"

A guest post from Ed Miliband

People sometimes say that they don't know what we — what I — stand for, so I'll put this in the simplest terms I can, so no one can have any doubts. This country is too unequal, and we need to change it.

So here are the promises I'm making to you about the kind of Britain I will lead:
First, I will undo the damage the Tories have done to our country:
  • I will scrap the Bedroom Tax, which unfairly punishes the disabled and the vulnerable
  • I will scrap the Health and Social Care Act, which damages and undermines our NHS
  • I will scrap the gagging law, which limits our freedom of speech and right to campaign
  • I will reverse the Tories' £3bn tax cut for millionaires, so we get the deficit down but do it fairly
Second, I will take on the powerful vested interests that hold millions back:
  • I will force energy companies to freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017
  • I will give power back to those who rent their homes, by scrapping letting fees and stabilising tenancy agreements
  • I will raise money from tobacco companies, tax avoiders, and a mansion tax to fund doctors, nurses, careworkers and midwives for our NHS
  • I will reform our banks so that they properly support small businesses
  • I will stop recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad
Third, I will start to rebuild a fairer, better Britain:
  • I will raise the minimum wage, to ensure that everyone that does a hard day's work is properly rewarded
  • I will promote the living wage by giving tax breaks to companies that pay it
  • I will ban the damaging zero-hours contracts that exploit British workers
  • I will bring in a lower 10p income tax rate, cutting taxes for 24 million workers
  • I will support working parents with 25 hours of free childcare for three- and four-year-olds
  • I will help more young people get on the housing ladder by getting 200,000 homes built every year
I want to know — is this the kind of Britain you want to see?
Tell me now which of my three promises is most important to you:

Undoing Tory damage
Taking on vested interests
Building a better Britain

Thank you.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Armistice Day

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the two minute silence is observed on Armistice Day, the day which marks the end of the First World War.

Armistice Day 2014 is today. 

"When you go home, tell them of us and say: For their tomorrow, we gave our today."

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday 2014

I am very proud to be the Mayor of Reading this Remembrance Sunday.
Proceedings were moved out of the previous base in Brock Barracks along Oxford Road in to the town centre with a service at the Minister Church followed by the main act of remembrance at the war memorial in the Forbury.
These events were very well supported and the two minutes silence observed immaculately.
Thank you Reading and our visitors from further afield.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Saturday, 11 October 2014

NHS Chief: Hospitals Should Open GP Surgeries

Could the RBH be the hub to a network of GP surgeries?
Following on from my own recent post "The time has come to complete Nye Bevan's vision of the NHS" I am interested to see this report of a speech made by the boss of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens. While I do not agree with every detail of his approach, I think the general direction of travel has much to offer Reading.
Perhaps now is the time for the Royal Berks Hospital to take the lead and bid to run the threatened GP surgery in Southcote.

From the Local Government Chronicle 

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens has proposed that some hospitals should be allowed to open their own GP surgeries.
Speaking at the Royal College of GPs’ annual conference in Liverpool, he described the “need to tear up the design flaw in the 1948 NHS model where family doctors were organised entirely separately from hospital specialists”.
Mr Stevens suggested also that GPs could form expanded group practices with other health professionals, including hospital consultants. Such groups could control delegated budgets for a whole population. 
He said that in some locations – such as deprived, urban communities where practices are struggling to recruit GPs – hospitals might be allowed to open their own GP surgeries with registered lists.
Such a model would allow primary care practices in these areas to benefit from investment from their local foundation trusts.
Mr Stevens also proposed that GPs could form expanded group practices that directly employ hospital consultants or take them on as practice partners. They could also take on a delegated annual budget to look after the whole healthcare needs of their group of patients.
Such groups could include a broad spectrum of health professionals, such as GPs, consultant physicians, geriatricians, psychiatrists, community nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and potentially some social workers, he suggested.
They could take on ownership of their local community hospital, to which they could add more local services, such as hi-tech scans, outpatient chemotherapy and dialysis.
Mr Stevens’ proposal is similar to the “accountable care organisation” model, a term created in the US which refers to groups of providers contracted to jointly provide all care for a given population for a defined period. Their funding is based to some extent on quality and efficiency performance.
“The national debate on the NHS is now picking up steam, and GP services are rightly at the centre of it,” Mr Stevens said.
“But, alongside more doctors and more funding, we also need new and better ways of caring for patients, especially older people at home.
“GPs themselves say that in many parts of the country the corner shop model of primary care is past its use by date.
“So we need to tear up the design flaw in the 1948 NHS model where family doctors were organised entirely separately from hospital specialists, and where patients with chronic health conditions are increasingly passed from pillar to post between different bits of the health and social services.”
He said 30% of emergency patients admitted to hospital were there for less than a day, which suggests their admission could have been prevented by better primary and social care.
NHS England is due to publish a “NHS five year forward view” this month, which will include details on new provider models for out of hospital services

Thursday, 9 October 2014

World Mental Health Day 2014

Years ago as a young man, when I broke my shoulder people made adjustments and jokes; when I suffered clinical depression there was only embarrassment and quietness.

Support World Mental Health Day on Friday by talking to someone about it.

Conservative Values

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

NHS: The Time Has Come To Complete Nye Bevan's Vision

All Purpose Clinics With Directly Employed NHS Staff
"The time has come to complete Nye Bevan's vision". So said Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham at the Labour Party conference last month.

In announcing a series of pledges to create a more integrated National Health Service, Burnham forecasts that the coming general election would be a "battle for the soul of the NHS".

Integrated care with GPs, mental health nurses, occupational therapists and physios, home care workers, midwives would all form part new local NHS teams for the whole person physical, mental and social.

But heres a thing: the first reaction to Burnhams speech came from the Royal College of General Practitioners who are said to have grave concerns about Burnhams plans to create hospital-led integrated care organisations.

Yet in Reading, as elsewhere, we see increasing struggles to maintain GP surgeries as they are one threatened, then saved in Caversham, another giving notice of closure in Southcote with repeated failures to recruit new GPs.

At the same time we see our great Royal Berkshire Hospital under particular financial strain for, amongst a number of reasons, loss of income from a fall in referrals by the GP-led commissioning groups and increased costs of people turning up at Accident & Emergency because they have no GP or else cant wait two weeks for an appointment.

Would it not be better to have a network of polyclinics or super surgeries around the town where the new integrated teams could work, which could act as both a shield and referral point for the RBH, perhaps even sharing or swapping staff? Perhaps thats what we should have had down the Oxford Road after the closure of Battle Hospital.

The trouble is, for all the talk of new waves of privatisation in the NHS, GP surgeries are for the most account, small, private business partnerships, which already control around two-thirds of all NHS spending. New GPs may not want or be able to afford to buy in to these established near local monopoly enterprises.

Remember when Nye Bevan established the NHS in 1948 he took the pragmatic decision in order to get the private medical professions on board, to stuff their mouths with goldSo, Andy, if you really want to complete Nye Bevans vision of the NHS, lets not pander any more to the vested interests of the Royal College of GPs and their like, but directly employ salaried GPs in NHS hospitals and polyclinics in a real cradle to grave, whole person, integrated NHS.